Public policy engagement

Microsoft is proud to be recognized as an engaged leader in accountability and transparency in the public policy process.

Our commitment and approach

Corporate participation in the public policy process helps to enhance the value we provide to shareholders. It is also fundamental to a free and democratic society.

Participation

We strive to ensure that our participation in the political process is open, transparent, and based on reasons that are clear and justifiable to our shareholders and the public. Microsoft and our employees participate in the United States political process in a variety of ways.
  • Program engagement: We join corporate government affairs programs designed to educate and influence elected officials on key public policy issues related to our business.
  • Support: We give individual political employee donations through the Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC).
  • Transparency: We're transparent about data collection and use to allow users to make informed decisions.
  • Collective action: We help to advance our business objectives through memberships in trade associations.

Policy agenda

A “Cloud for Global Good” is our policy roadmap designed to provide lawmakers and policy influencers with a set of recommendations to advance the digital transformation opportunities that the cloud presents.

The policy roadmap is grounded in our belief in a future powered by the cloud, and our commitment to realize the social and economic benefits of cloud computing for everyone. The roadmap covers a range of policy areas and provides a comprehensive set of recommendations and considerations mapped to three core principles: a trusted cloud, a responsible cloud, an inclusive cloud.


Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are giving rise to computing systems that can see, hear, learn, and reason which creates new opportunities to improve education and healthcare, address poverty, and achieve a more sustainable future. However, AI also raises complex ethical questions about the impact on society including jobs, privacy, inclusiveness, and fairness. To address these issues, we’ve published The Future Computed: Artificial intelligence and its role in society which discusses six principles to guide the development and deployment of AI solutions.

Responsible governance

The Regulatory and Public Policy Committee of the Microsoft Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing our public policy work and related activities. The committee receives regular, formal reports. The management of our participation in the US political process is the responsibility of the Corporate Vice President for US Government Affairs, who reports directly to Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer. Brad Smith reports to the company CEO, Satya Nadella.

Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC)

The Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC) Steering Committee, a bipartisan committee of federal and state government affairs professionals, is responsible for oversight and day-to-day decision making related to political spending. Oversight of the committee includes disbursements from MSPAC and permissible employee and shareholder donations made by the program.

Engagement Principles

Microsoft has adopted Principles for Engagement in the Public Policy Process in the United States. These principles address issues specific to the US political and fundraising system.

Under these policies, we commit to disclosing a semi-annual list of election campaign expenditures, including financial and in-kind contributions by the company and MSPAC to candidates, political parties, political committees, and other politically active tax-exempt organizations, such as those organized under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4), as defined by applicable laws.

To uphold our commitment to the transparency of our political spending and contributions, we do not make corporate contributions to any non-candidate or non-party political committees organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, which are formed solely to influence elections. We also make no independent political expenditures or electioneering communications, as permitted under the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and we inform our trade associations that no Microsoft funds may pay for their independent expenditures or electioneering communications.

Transparency in reporting

Microsoft regularly files and publishes reports that detail our public policy advocacy activities. Our disclosures include consultant fees, lobbying expenses, and trade association dues spent on advocacy. Please see FY18 reporting resources below.

FY18 highlights

Microsoft and our employees participate in the United States political process in a variety of ways.

  • Learn about our program
  • The cloud has made privacy issues a practical necessity for technology. We recognize and accept the responsibility to help protect public safety and preserve personal privacy.

    Learn more about our approach
  • In 2018, we released an updated Cloud for Global Good, a policy road map for governments, industry, and civil society to consider as they realize the opportunities and address the challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    Learn about the updated roadmap
  • As technology continues to reshape the world, the conflicts between nations are no longer confined to air, land, and sea. The future of internet cybersecurity will require the public and private sector working together over many years.

    Learn more in the blog
  • In 2018, the CPA-Zicklin Index named Microsoft as a “Trendsetter” among the S&P 500 for our leadership in political disclosure and accountability.

    Learn more about the index

FY18 reporting resources

US Federal and State advocacy spending (PDF)

Microsoft regularly files and publishes downloadable reports that detail our public policy advocacy activities. Our disclosures include consultant fees, lobbying expenses, and trade association dues spent on advocacy.

MSPAC and corporate political spending

An outside ethics counsel reviews and approves all Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC) and corporate political giving activities, filings, reports, and materials. We publish MSPAC and corporate political spending reports semi-annually on our CSR reports hub.

2018 Global Reporting Initiative Index

The 2018 report content throughout this site contains disclosures from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Standards.

Trade associations expenditures

Microsoft is a member of many trade associations (organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code) in the US to help advance our public policy agenda and related business goals. We publicly disclose and annually update a list of those trade associations to which Microsoft pays dues and makes other expenditures through our Corporate, External and Legal Affairs (CELA) group. Each year, Microsoft inquires and makes a reasonable effort to obtain information about what portion of the company’s dues or payments were used for lobbying expenditures or political contributions from those associations where our dues and other expenditures total $25,000 or more. Current and archived reports are published on our CSR reports hub.



Get the bigger picture

Explore key resources to learn more about our engagement in the public policy process.